Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. All About Window Tinting (and Why You Should Care)

All About Window Tinting (and Why You Should Care)

About Window Tinting

Types of Window Tint

Some vehicle manufacturers have windows that come with a factory tint on the vehicle's windows, though that is generally only done on the rear windows. This “factory tint” is done by dying the glass. There is sometimes a degree to which the top of the front window is tinted to help reflect the sun's glare. This is especially apparent on older vehicles with stock windshields, as the graduated green strip is clearly visible.

As an aftermarket upgrade, window tinting is generally done by applying a film to the interior of the vehicle’s windows. While DIY kits are available, the results can be messy, with air bubbles or crooked placement. Window tinting on a vehicle reduces the Visible Light Transference (VLT), and window tinting is graded on the percentage of light that transfers. The lower the percentage of light transmittance, the darker the tint.

Legality of aftermarket window tinting

Each state has different window tinting laws regarding the darkness of the tint legally allowed. You can check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website to find the legal tint in your state. Laws vary widely, from 20% in New Mexico to 70% in some states, including Alaska, Vermont, and Michigan. Factory tint generally has a VLT of 74-85%.

Why people tint vehicle windows

There are many good reasons to do an aftermarket tint to a vehicle’s windows. For many vehicle owners, privacy is an issue. Depending on the VLT level of tint there is the ability to make it hard for a driver to see in another vehicle's windows. Window tinting also blocks up to 99% harmful UV rays, which helps to keep the interior in better shape. Over time, this makes a significant difference in the value of the vehicle, as those with tinted windows tend to have less cracks in leather and less fading of dashboards.

Window tinting also reduces heat in the vehicle up to 70%, which is helpful for drivers who live in high heat climates such as the south. Another helpful byproduct of window tinting is it helps keep glass from shattering during an accident. While the windows of newer cars are all tempered or laminated, reducing the likelihood of sharp pieces cutting an occupant, the adhesive in window tint may result in fewer loose pieces of glass after the window is broken.

The process of window tinting

There are two options when considering aftermarket tint for a vehicle’s windows. The first is OEM tinted glass, which has the tint mixture added into the glass in manufacturing. This makes it more likely to pass even the most stringent state window tinting laws as it is a light tint. This is the most costly window tint as it needs to be done by the dealership when the vehicle is purchased, or by a licensed mechanic after the new windows are purchased.

Film tint is perhaps the most popular option. With this window tint, the window glass needs to be specially treated before a polymer film is spread over the window. Attached carefully, this form of window tinting is prone to bubbles so it is best to have a trained professional do it. The film tint is supposed to be changed every five years or so to prevent cracking and peeling.

Breakdown of Different Levels of Tint

Which method of window tinting a vehicle owner chooses is partially determined by how dark the tint should be. Each method produces a different VLT. Which one a driver chooses could be decided by factors such as the reason for tinting, and what percentage of VLT is legal in their state.

  • Factory Tint: The VLT of factory tint is 74-85%, depending on where the car is originally shipped for sale. This tint is applied by dying the glass, prior to sale.

  • OEM Tint: OEM tint can be ordered to be any VLT that’s desired, but may be subject to the applicable laws in the state where it’s ordered. OEM tint is generally an upgrade that’s done in European countries. OEM tint is applied by adding a mixture to the glass during manufacturing.

  • Film Tint: Film tint can be purchased with a VLT as high as 90%, or as low as 2.5%. Film tint is installed by a licensed mechanic.

Why You Should Care About Window Tinting

Tinting windows may or may not help with the resale of a vehicle. It depends on if the tint was done early enough in the ownership of the car to protect the interior, which is a primary consideration for someone looking to purchase a used vehicle. It also depends on if the tint is legal in the state that the purchaser lives in. Another consideration was the method used to tint the windows. If a DIY tint has lots of bubbles or looks shoddy, it’s not going to be perceived as an asset. Lastly, it comes down to personal preference of the buyer. While the current owner of the vehicle might have loved the aftermarket tint, a prospective buyer might not. It is important to note that neither Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds list window tint in their estimates of car sale values.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


More related articles

How Long Does a Fuel Filler Neck Last?
Getting gas from the pump to your gas tank is the only way to keep a car going. The fuel filler neck is a metal tube that is welded to the...
How Long Does a Vacuum Brake Booster Check Valve Last?
The braking system on your car requires a lot of pressure. The vacuum booster is one of the main sources of this pressure. This booster will take the pressure that...
How to Find the Keyless Code on a Ford Explorer or Mercury Mountaineer
Many Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers were manufactured with an option known as the Ford keyless entry keypad. Some models refer to it as SecuriCode as well. It...

Related questions

Q: Rear window leak

More than likely the rear window trim is allowing water to enter. The trim and/or windshield may need to be replaced. I suggest having a professional, such as one from YourMechanic, inspect your windows firsthand for a definitive answer of...

Q: Q: How do I turn on the windshield wipers?

The windshield wipers are key safety features that dramatically increase visibility when it is raining. The windshield wipers have three settings: INT (intermittent), LO (low), and HI (high). To turn them on, pull down on the wiper lever, which is...

Q: Aftermarket radio installed and now I'm having some issues.

Hi there. The blue wire from the car is the remote wire to the radio. This wire is what turns on the face plate of the radio and then turns on the amp in your radio which will divide the...